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Renal tsar urges GPs urged to test for anaemia

By Emma Wilkinson

GPs are being urged to test patients with both chronic kidney disease and diabetes for anaemia after research by the Government's renal tsar suggested large numbers of affected patients were slipping through the net.

The study will heighten concerns over the knock-on effect of cardiovascular screening on GP workload, after finding almost one in five patients with diabetes or stage three CKD had a level of anaemia requiring treatment under national guidance.

The researchers said nowhere near this many patients were diagnosed and that around 80,000 across the country were potentially suffering a poor quality of life because of lack of treatment.

Lead researcher Dr John New, a colleague on the study of the national director for renal care, Dr Donal O'Donoghue, said patients with moderate CKD were often not considered at risk of anaemia and those who also had diabetes risked getting it an earlier stage of CKD.

Dr New, a consultant diabetologist at Salford Royal Foundation Trust, said: ‘We found 18% of people with CKD stage 3 are anaemic to levels that would get them treatment, yet no one thinks of them.

‘What's even dafter is that diabetes is measured by HbA1C so we have the sample - it's just a case of measuring haemoglobin as well. If you're anaemic it's a huge risk factor for morbidity and mortality and you can treat it so easily.'

He said diabetes associations were being slow to come on board with recommendations for routine testing for anaemia. ‘It's an awful lot of people – around 500 in each PCT and the test costs about 50p,' he added.

But Dr Eugene Hughes, a GP on the Isle of Wight and committee member of the Primary Care Diabetes Society, insisted most people with CKD and diabetes who had anaemia would be picked up through blood counts at their annual check.

He added: ‘Quite often the anaemia is not treatable with iron but it does support the fact that blood count should be part of annual screening.'

The results are published in the latest issue of Diabetic Medicine.

Dr Donal O'Donoghue: Renal tsar urging GPs to test for anaemia Dr Donal O'Donoghue: Renal tsar urging GPs to test for anaemia

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